Mark Levin’s hard work in researching, organizing and writing his new book, “Ameritopia,” will be a blessing for all who read it.
Countless books chronicle the forward march of the liberal agenda and attempt to deconstruct the fallacies in modern leftist thinking. Many critique the statist policies the left has imposed on us the past half-century and their disastrous effects on our culture, our economy and our national security.
Few modern books, however, direct our attention to first principles, perhaps assuming people implicitly understand the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of conservative thinking, and even fewer truly explore the anatomy of the liberal vision.
In “Liberty and Tyranny,” Levin laid out the conservative vision and contrasted it with the liberal vision. But “Ameritopia” examines more deeply the historical and philosophical roots of the utopian ideal, for it is that ideal that has always animated the liberal worldview.
Levin takes us through the seminal thoughts of some of the most noted political philosophers and writers who laid out the utopian vision — from Plato to Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx — and then unpacks the contrasting vision of John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu and others whose ideas greatly influenced America’s founders.
Liberal utopianism is a fantasy of arrogant philosophers and philosopher kings who believe their vision is superior to those of other lowly mortals. Levin calls them the “masterminds” — the latest and most prominent being President Barack Obama and his cadre of utopian elitists. They believe they are proponents of enlightenment thinking and rationalism who could construct the ideal society if deniers and other obstructionists would just get out of their way.
In reality, however, they couldn’t be more irrational, as they reject human nature, history and all empirical evidence that contradicts their vision. Indeed, writes Levin, “utopianism is regressive, irrational, and pre-Enlightenment.”
History and the whole of human experience be damned; utopians can achieve the ideal society even if all similar utopians who preceded them failed. As Levin says, they always believe that “what went before them” was “piecemeal and therefore inadequate. The steps necessary to achieve true utopianism have yet to be tried.”
As modern examples, consider the American left’s refusal to accept that the welfare state has failed despite $5 trillion being thrown at it, that federal money and control are not a panacea for education (there will never be enough to satisfy leftists), that our health care system has been severely damaged by federal intermeddlers and enemies of the market, and that the colossally wasteful trillion-dollar stimulus package wasn’t big enough.
As Plato argued in his “Republic,” utopians believe the individual must subordinate his will to the state. They must destroy individuality and individual liberty because those stand in opposition to the conformity their utopian vision demands.
Standing in stark contrast are America’s constitutional framers, who rejected the folly that certain superior representatives of the species could change the entire species’ intrinsic nature. They believed in man’s natural rights and cherished the individual liberty flowing from those rights. As students of history, philosophy and human nature, they refused to follow the path of utopians who rejected the realities not only of human nature but also of the evidence of its outworkings in history, especially in man’s endless experiments in statecraft. With wide-eyed recognition of human nature, they crafted the American Constitution to maximize individual liberties, despite the natural tendency of man toward absolutism.
As the Constitution established that essential balance between governmental power and individual liberties by sufficiently empowering but also limiting governmental power, it is essential that its structure be maintained if our freedom is to be preserved.
Utopian leftists view the Constitution not as a structural safeguard for our liberties, but as an obstacle to their utopian goal of concentrating power in the central government to empower them to implement their grand vision. They only champion the Constitution as a matter of political expedience, when it serves their larger ends. In Levin’s words: “For the mastermind, the Constitution’s words are undeserving of respect as the rest of history. They will be used to muddle and disarrange, not inform and clarify.”
The left has succeeded in dismantling much of the American freedom tradition — through legislative, executive and judicial assaults on the Constitution — all in the name of advancing a seductive form of equality that denies and seeks to neutralize human nature and leaves tyranny in its wake.
We are in a war for the survival of the republic, and no modern writer has better articulated what is at stake or laid out with such accessible clarity the competing visions and their respective consequences for America.